Andrea Lacorte, Founder and President,

PharmaNutra Group

"Over the past 20 years we have grown into a leading player in the iron-based oral nutritional supplements market."

Could you introduce PharmaNutra Group and give us an overview of its three companies? The Group was founded almost 20 years ago in Pisa (Italy), and it is formed of PharmaNutra S.p.A., Junia Pharma S.r.l., and Alesco S.r.l. Alesco was the first entity of the Group to be established and it is focused on the production and distribution of ingredients and raw materials in the B2B market. Meanwhile, PharmaNutra is concerned with FDFs (nutritional supplements and medical devices) using the innovative materials produced by Alesco. Finally, Junia Pharma is dedicated to the needs of the paediatric sector. Over the past 20 years we have grown into a leading player in the iron-based oral nutritional supplements market. Our biggest strength is that we operate in a protected environment: We use patented Sucrosomial ingredients, controlling our brands globally. Our technology is medically proven, backed by over 120 published scientific studies. Could you walk us through your current portfolio? Our technological pillar is iron, and the Sucrosomial iron technology is found under the Sideral brand, of which we derive 16 formulations adapted to different regulations in 54 countries. However, we apply this technology to other minerals like magnesium, and our UltraMag nutritional supplement is already sold in six countries. Besides, our cetylated fatty acids technology is the key ingredient for our Cetilar brand medical devices line, with cream, patches and tape topical applications customized to different users. A third of PharmaNutra’s revenues is export-based. How do you position for international growth? We actually export 65% of our output by unit volume. This discrepancy comes from the fact that we use distributors abroad, and these extra costs reduce the gross margins. Our strategy down the line is to maintain the distributor model in smaller markets, but change the approach towards key large markets by establishing subsidiaries through acquisitions. US, Canada, UK, France, China, Japan and Australia are the most important markets where we see ourselves growing in the future. PharmaNutra Group was recently qualified to the STAR segment of the Borsa Italiana (Italian Stock Exchange). Can you comment on this milestone and how is it impacting your investor base? After listing on the AIM three years ago, last December we entered the STAR segment of the MTA. This upgrade creates significant changes, both internally and externally. At an organizational level, we need to communicate more frequently and more accurately, reporting a quarterly balance sheet. The profile and nature of our investors have also changed significantly; this means more demanding investors, who are interested in the fundamentals of the business. Also, the investor base is more geographically diverse, with many brokers in Southern and Northern Europe, as well as in the Americas. Just by entering the STAR segment, the appreciation of our stocks improved greatly. What is your inorganic growth strategy? PharmaNutra’s key priority in this period is to expand through acquisitions, both domestically and internationally, with two main goals: In Italy, we are going to strengthen our team of 140 sales agents and diversify our portfolio by adding specialist products like self-prescription medicines or sports supplements. Abroad, we are actively scouting for companies that fit our portfolio. Essentially, we look for companies with a reliable scientific reputation and a smart approach to medical promotion and distribution that could support the spread of our technology and products through their channels What are your investment priorities? Because we are growing so quickly, we are building a new, more equipped and avant-guarde HQ in Italy. Also, we are investing in a production plant dedicated to the biosynthesis of our Sucrosomial technology, from where products will be sent to separate facilities for the end products. Finally, we are building Europe’s largest cell biology cruelty-free lab that allows us to simulate the digestion and absorption of compounds without involving animal testing. We should inaugurate the new office, the plant, and the new digestion lab in the next two years. Do you have a final message? The potential of PharmaNutra is gigantic. If we look at our performance in our top 10 markets, it is not a dream to think we can multiply the success in big markets like the US.